Food essentials ‘must be price capped’ say three quarters of UK shoppers

Cost of living: Woman reveals how she saves on food

Three-quarters of shoppers would back price caps on supermarket essentials to curb soaring prices.

An exclusive survey for the Sunday Express found widespread support for measures to control the cost of food and other vital products.

It comes as the Competition and Markets Authority begins an inquiry into whether retail giants are taking advantage of the cost-of-living crisis at the expense of customers.

The investigation was backed today by John Glen, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

He said: “The Chancellor and I have met with producers and retailers to discuss the cost of food and we have been working with the competition watchdog to make sure pricing is fair for customers.”

Mr Glen added: “We want fully stocked supermarket shelves, stable pricing and more money to support people with the cost of living.”

However, he said the Government would not impose compulsory price caps that risked causing shortages.

Downing Street is understood to be urging retailers to charge the ­lowest possible amount for staples such as bread and milk voluntarily.

But a survey by Omnisis suggests there would be support for tougher measures, with 73 percent saying the Government should introduce “price caps on essential goods”. The idea was opposed by 17 percent.

The CMA is to interrogate food industry suppliers and retailers this month and will publish a report in late July.

In a letter to bosses, it said: “We have seen no evidence at this stage of specific competition problems but, given ongoing concerns about high prices, our aim is to ensure competition is working well and people can exercise choice
with confidence.”

MPs have raised concerns about soaring costs, with Lichfield Tory Michael Fabricant warning: “We have to ensure supermarkets do not take unfair advantage and excess profits from wholesale prices.”

The Government has sought to quash suggestions that it could impose pricing controls similar to those introduced by former Prime Minister Edward Heath in the 1970s.

Despite this, the idea of controls has faced a backlash from retailers.

Asda chairman Stuart Rose, a former boss of Marks & Spencer, has warned ministers of “unintended consequences”, saying: “You can’t interfere in the markets, the markets will control themselves.”

Food inflation is running at 15.4 percent in the year to May, according to a survey by the British Retail Consortium and Nielsen.

It means a £20 food bill a year ago is now a little over £23.

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